Former world number one Roger Federer has declared Novak Djokovic as the favourite for the season’s maiden Grand Slam.
Djokovic currently holds both the Wimbledon and US Open titles after a remarkable surge in form during 2018, which saw the Serb finish as year-end world number one.
However, Djokovic’s 2019 hasn’t got off to the ideal start following his surprise Qatar Open semi-final defeat to eventual champion Roberto Bautista-Agut.
If Djokovic was to go on and win at Melbourne Park, he would surpass both Roy Emerson and Swiss rival Federer to become the most successful male in Australian Open history with seven titles.
Federer, though, will provide arguably the biggest challenge to the Serb having won the previous two Aussie Open crowns.
The 37-year-old oozed his class in the Hopman Cup this week with a flawless four out of four success rate in his singles rubbers, including a demolition of world number four Alexander Zverev.
Despite his impressive display, the Swiss ace believes there is no doubting who the favourite is Down Under.
"No doubt about it, Novak is the favourite, regardless of what happened in Doha, the game had a super, super strong last five or six months of the year.
"With his class once he gets his groove back he is hard to beat,” declared Federer, as per Sky Sports.
He added: "I'm one of the top 10 favourites and so are many others. I don't know the draw yet, I don't know who my first-round opponent is, I don't know if I play on Monday or day or night.
"In terms of who is going to win it, we know who the usual suspects are and I am part of that bunch."
It is highly likely that the pair will face each other in either the semi-final or in the final.
Djokovic has had the better of the Swiss in their recent encounters, succeeding in the previous four meetings, including a four-set victory in the 2016 Australian Open semi-final.
Elsewhere, the build-up to the event has been plagued by injuries to many of the big names.
Rafael Nadal had to pull out of the Brisbane International last week leaving him in doubt. Also, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro announced his withdrawal from the event over Twitter on New Year’s Eve, but did announce his recovery from knee injury is going well.
Britain’s Andy Murray is also a doubt due to the reoccurring hip problem that kept him out for much of last season, and last year’s semi-finalist Kyle Edmund is also facing a race against time to be fit for the event.
The Australian Open will officially start on January 14, with the draw expected to take place on Thursday evening.News Now - Sport News